On Twitter, the writer Patrick Nathan fired up a link to The Top Ten, a website devoted to authors sharing their top ten works of fiction with the world. I have a love of lists—who doesn’t?—and, more than anything, I just thought it would be kind of fun to do. It’s sort of like MVP voting in sports, which is this ill-defined idea of what “valuable” means which leads to a series of criteria for selection that is never wrong but also never fully complete.
Unlike other authors at The Top Ten, I’ve decided not to include short story collections. Why? I guess because I’ve touched on short stories in previous blog posts and spend so much time on short stories, both in my own writing and at work, that I decided to exclude collections. So, novels only. (more…)
Over the weekend, I was asked for my top five favorite books of all time. This is the equivalent of giving a starving man a menu. Nonetheless, once the day’s writing is done and the basketball or running or lifting are complete, I don’t really want to work in the yard anyway. So I sat down and started scrawling a list of potential top five books—ignoring nonfiction and story collections for the sake of simplicity (which I changed my mind about later)—and quickly had it narrowed down to twenty three “top five” books.
I’ve tried to list my favorite books below. Loosely, they are in some sort of chronological order, but just barely. I forced myself to choose only one book per writer so that you don’t have to read me listing F. Scott Fitzgerald over and over again. I’m sure I’m forgetting something really obvious. (more…)
Originally, my Toni Morrison reading plan was going to be chronological. This made sense to me: start from her first book, The Bluest Eye, first published in 1970, and then work my way forward and discover the way she developed as a writer. My thoughts on her debut novel are here. Both an interesting reading experience and an interesting writing experience, I wanted to see how her prose challenged and developed over the course of four decades, and what challenges she threw down for herself over the course of her novels.
But there is also the problem of me as a reader. I can be easily distracted. I read short stories for consideration for publication in The Missouri Review. I read literary journals. I read student stories. At home, there are growing stacks of short story collections, novels, nonfiction, poetry collections, and magazines, all of which I can’t get to, what with other things (read: Life) interfering with my time. Don’t forget, too, the books that I often like and want to re-read, all of which have their spines turned out and facing me along my living room wall. My point is that if I don’t remain focused on a reading plan or goal, I’ll veer off track. This is one of the big reasons I decided to follow Rebecca’s reading plan in the first place. (more…)